Ugly Betty. It just gets Uglier in Utrecht

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After our story about Betty Changs court case the other day, we had a reader get in touch to describe her experiences at the hands of the notorious landlord. This made me delve deeper into Betty Changs murky world.

Seven years ago, according to www.dub.uu.nl she was responsible for:

“No maintenance of houses, no respect for privacy, intimidating behavior and towering rents for too small rooms. According to the LSVb and ROOD, the Utrecht room renter Betty Chang is the Slum Landlord of the year 2011.”

In 2015, “Confessed Traveholic” Michelle wrote in her on-line blog after searching for somewhere to live:

“I did a quick google search and there are literally pages of results pointing to Betty Chang as the worst landlord in Utrecht. There were blogs, newspaper articles and forum threads warning you to stay away from her to even YouTube clips of local news segments of her being confronted by reporters.

In fact, she’s been sued many times for malpractice and people posted warnings to stay away from her because she would pull tricks like not returning your deposit money or charging you random fees that she claimed were set by the city. In fact, her name has such a bad rep in the city with many people refusing to work for her…”

You would have thought that Betty Chang would have learnt from this and mended her ways, but no. Her greed is her only attribute. I recently spoke with Nati about her experiences in a flat owned by Chang.

In February 2016 she and her boyfriend found themselves in a difficult housing situation. They were renting a small studio in an old building from Betty Chang. It was in the centre of Utrecht on Krugertraat. At that time, they did not know who they were dealing with. The studio was in poor condition, but it was still possible to live in it, although the corridor was full of things from previous tenants.

Nati continued:

“We paid the rent regularly. We asked many times for Chang to renovate the studio and clean the corridor. Unfortunately, any agreement with Chang was impossible. We had to repair everything ourselves. Chang did not follow the contract.”

Contact with Chang was always difficult. She would never answer her phone or it was switched off, or she was on holiday in Japan, she was never available and never returned calls or replied to messages. Not the actions of an accountable landlord as she did not take even the minimum of action to make things better for her tenants.

“Over time, the studio needed really serious renovations. Problems had begun with gas, electric, water supply, central heating and a then a nest of dangerous wasps inside the studio there were leaky old windows, and a damaged washing machine. Requests for refurbishment and cleaning were not successful. I informed Geemente in Utrecht, Buurteam and I reported Chang to Huurteam.”

After starting the procedure with Huurteam, the rental team in Utrecht that works for fair rents, decent housing and good leasing conditions. She still did not make any serious renovations.

Nati said she:

“…was scared every day for what the flat would be like when I came home. I heard that Chang does not respect privacy, she removed private things.”

Life became a nightmare as Chang played the system and played for time,

“Chang blackmailed me, threatened me. She talked with me often through strange people who I was afraid of. She said that if I did not stop the procedures, she would not renovate anything in my studio.”

She made good this promise as over time, the studio completely ceased to be habitable. There was water leaking through the roof into electrical cables. They could not take a shower because the water system was not working. They couldn’t use the toilet because it caused flooding at their neighbours. The heating was regularly broken.

All this time Chang was ignoring the complaints until things came to a dangerous head:

“When I was closing the window, it became a dangerous situation. The old glass fell out. We had to live for weeks lived in a studio with cardboard instead of glass. I lived with stress every day. I worried about my own life and health.”

Nati received a report from Huurteam, but the whole procedure was unimaginably long. She had to go to her family doctor about health problems.

Chang knows what she is doing, she uses a broken housing system to work for her. She knows there are long procedures, the time taken can wear down the plaintiff and can cause people to stop their fight.

Nati says:

“It’s a timed game, a psychic game, a terrible exploitation of people, direct exposure ill health. How is it possible with modern Europe, in the Netherlands, in the 21st century, in the centre of Utrecht that there are living conditions worse than in the Third World?”

We have to ask. how is Betty Chang able to get away with this abhorrent behaviour? What are the authorities doing about her?

How are they trying to solve the housing crisis in Utrecht?

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Jon Wilkins

Jon Wilkins

Jon Wilkins is Welsh and lives in England. He is a writer. A Europhile and Remainer, he is a regular visitor to Utrecht and has set his crime novel series in the city.

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